Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Shatters Record Again With More Than 77,000 New Cases; Texas Reports Its Deadliest Day In Pandemic; Russia Denies Vaccine Research Hacking Allegations. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2020 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is New Day. John Berman is off, Jim Sciutto is here. Great to have you, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWDAY: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: We begin with breaking news. The U.S. set another single day record for new cases, with a staggering 77,000 on Thursday. That is more than triple the amount of cases the U.S. had just one month ago in the space of just this month. The U.S. has broken its own record nine times. The U.S. has more cases than all of the countries in the European Union combined.

Florida, Texas and South Carolina reporting a record number of deaths, ten states and Puerto Rico reporting record hospitalizations, and The Washington Post has obtained an unpublished report from the White House coronavirus task force that suggests nearly 20 of the hardest hit states need to immediately enact tougher measures such as mask mandates.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Why isn't that guidance out there now? Well, Arkansas and Colorado are the latest states to impose mask mandates while the Georgia's governor, he is suing Atlanta mayor to stop her from mandating masks as new cases soar not just in that city but in that state.

Overnight, the CDC announced it is delaying the release of new information on how to safely reopen schools. That guidance was supposed to come out today. Dr. Fauci in a Facebook interview says young people can still be, quote, brought to their knees by the pandemic, something to remember there. No one is truly immune from this.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

Sanjay, you've been following this closely. You're a doctor. You don't depend for your judgments and advice on information and data. You have a number of indicators here of the White House getting involved in the data, right? You have the coronavirus task force talking about guidance to 20 states to shut down immediately, not out there, why? CDC guidelines on reopening schools, like guidelines on reopening churches, held back and the White House now getting involved in the counting of cases here.

How should people at home take that pattern and should they be concerned that the administration is not going to allow the right data to get out there in the public eye?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Jim, I think that is a fair concern. You can't take these sorts of developments in isolation any more. Because I think since the beginning of all of this, and I'm talking going back to January, February timeframe, there has been a minimizing of this pandemic in the United States. I mean, I think that is -- everything else that is happening is quite manifesting itself from that desire to minimize this.

And when you're seeing possibly the data that we as journalists have been getting, we used to call each state separately and get this data, then we are going to the CDC and now we're hearing that it may be hard to get again, it might be scrubbed by HHS before it gets to us. We need this information unedited, unfiltered so we can try to make sense of it.

It's no joy in showing the numbers of us comparing us to the E.U., even though the E.U. has a larger population than we do, 6,000 cases here, 75,000 cases whatever cases here in a day. That is a trajectory that people need to understand because there is still something that can be done about it.

We also need to hear about it from people like Dr. Fauci. I mean, Jim, you and I talked to him regularly. He takes our calls. But the fact that he's not appearing in media, mainstream media, actually talking about these messages, I think it is really important because we need solutions as well as a better analysis of exactly what the problem is.

CAMEROTA: Well, that leads us to the White House coronavirus task force, Kaitlan. Why did it take The Washington Post to get their hands on this unreleased, unpublished report? Why were they sitting on that information that 20 states, the hardest hit states, need to do much more starting today, such as mask mandates? Why isn't that getting out to the public?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and that's been the question about even these task force meetings themselves that are not open to the public but all the members and the vice president attend. It's often we hear from multiple people in those meetings that they choose to focus on the positive data.


And while, of course, that is noteworthy and the American people need to hear that as well so they know there is hope, it also has to be realistic about where we are and where we're going. And so that's why there are so many questions about the information that they are choosing to reveal. This is so much bigger than just the president downplaying it or really not even addressing it this week, as we've seen him do with coronavirus, but it's as also questions about the data. One with what was happening with this hospital data being rerouted to the database in Washington and some of it started to disappear from the CDC website.

And after we and other outlets reached out, that's when HHS said they were going to instruct the CDC to put that data backup. Though it's it is still unclear what we're going to see going forward.

And then the other thing is the CDC guidance, these documents that you've seen Vice President Pence and the press secretary talking about that we were supposed to get this week about reopening schools, we're now told that guidance isn't ready yet and it's not coming out this week. And that is notable given that some teachers are scheduled to go back to school in a month from now. That's really soon.

And if the CDC doesn't have this guidance prepared, it's raising questions about what's happening behind the scenes and what their thinking is on this.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, you're aware of this in all of your guidance, right, that there are deep economic consequences to shutdown. And we talk about that a lot on this network. The fact is, however, that if you don't get the outbreak under control, right, it's hard for the economy to get going again. It's interesting.

You heard that argument this hour saying well, if you shut down and you open up, and then you'll have to shut down again. But explain, excuse me for using the word, the idiocy of that argument and that you have to get the outbreak under control to bring the case number down, right, so that shutdowns work because they then allow you to get under control so it doesn't do what it is doing right now. Just explain to folks that logic.

GUPTA: Yes. And you also have to realize, you have to take it in the timeframe that we're talking about. So if we went back to the very beginning and said, hey, look, could we possibly avoid a shutdown talking back in January if we were doing adequate testing, finding people who were newly infected, isolating them, tracing their contacts, all of the stuff we've been talking about for months now, maybe you could have possibly avoided significant shutdowns.

I mean, they did that in South Korea, as you know. South Korea, where they have fewer than 300 people have died, they never actually went into a shutdown mode. So that was possible.

At some point as the infection spreads, if you think of it as a human body as the disease spreads, more aggressive treatments are going to be necessary.

What we did in our case here is we sort of applied a measure for a period of time but that was a half measure. If you think about it, really, about half of the country at any given time, it was actually in some sort of shutdown mode at the same time. And then we sort of let the pressure off too early and the disease spread even more. So now, we're at a stage three or a stage four disease as opposed to an early stage disease and a more aggressive treatment is probably going to be necessary.

and I will add to that, Jim, I think some time ago, you could have said, hey, look, we've got localized disease in various places. We can treat this sort of locally. Unfortunately, as it is become metastatic now around the country, around the body, if that's the metaphor, you need to have a systemic treatment now. So the idea that you need a national approach has probably always been the case, but now more than ever.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan, as we know --

SCIUTTO: It's good comparison, Alisyn, right, the cancer comparison, right? Because the disease is spread so far, you have to use more aggressive treatment.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes. I've always found Sanjay's analogy to cancer and the metastatic growth to be a very compelling one. I think about that one a lot.

And, Kaitlan, we know what the president is thinking based on what he talks about in his Twitter feed, and so he was not prioritizing coronavirus yesterday. But he was very concerned about water pressure coming out of shower heads. Here is that moment.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: So shower heads, you take a shower, the water doesn't come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn't come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer and you take a shower longer, because my hair, I don't know about you, but it has to be perfect, perfect.


CAMEROTA: I don't know what is wrong with the water pressure in the White House but something is very wrong there. What are we to make of that, Kaitlan?

COLLINS: I think, I mean, obviously, the president is being funny there. But the larger point is if you look at the remarks from that event, he spent more time talking about water pressure and shower heads and what not than he did even addressing the. And instead, the vice president got up and he was the one who spent a little bit more time talking about it.

It's just notable because the White House is insisting the president is focused on pandemic. He's talking about it. They're saying he's being briefed on a daily basis on it.


But his priorities, they are always really clear. You always know where the president stands on something and what he's thinking because he lets you know, whether it's in person or on Twitter, it's always really obvious. And, lately, this has just not been a priority for him. It's not something he is talking about.

But it's not even just what he is saying. It goes down to White House planning. The president was in Atlanta this week to give a speech on infrastructure but he did not go to the CDC, which is, of course, right down the road in Atlanta.

And so it's just raising questions about the president's tactics here. You've seen this week he changed his campaign manager. And we talked to several people who work inside of the White House who are allies of this president who fear that he is just ignoring this. And he thinks his bad poll numbers and those numbers that show Americans don't approve of the way he's handling this or his lack of leadership on this, he thinks that can change by changing his campaign manager.

And even the people closest to him have pointed out they don't think that is going to help. It is the president, they say, who needs to recalibrate his message and they just fear that, I mean, it's July and that it's too late and that he's not going to do that.

SCIUTTO: Sanjay, schools, so many folks watching at home curious what's going to schools next month here. And it seems like the wisdom is some schools could reopen safely in communities where the outbreak is under control. Is that your sense? And as long as the broader community has it under control, there are conditions under which it's possible.

GUPTA: Yes, I think that's a fair statement, Jim. But going back to what we were talking about earlier, I am worried about the country as a whole. I think it's hard to point any specific place and say they are totally under control, they are totally not vulnerable.

Jim, I think about this all the time. I've got three girls. This is topic number one in our household. It is true. Let me tell you a couple of things. It is true kids are less likely to get sick. And there has been good data now looking -- going back to even Wuhan days, the likelihood of kids -- what their likelihood of actually getting sick, they make up 6.4 percent of all cases of infections, but of that, 1 percent of hospitalizations, and of that, 0.3 percent of all deaths. So it's not a zero risk but it is very low risk.

The larger question, and I heard the -- I've been listening to the program all morning -- is so what is the likelihood that they can transmit the virus then. That's the next basic question. We know they can carry the virus in their nose and their mouth but it does appear that they are less likely to transmit the virus as well.

But that data is hard to come by. You know why? Because my kids have largely been at home since mid-March, as have most of the world's kids. So even when I look at these large studies, 4,000 or 5,000- person studies, usually, it only involves maybe 50 kids. So it's hard to extrapolate from that. We still don't have a clear sense of just how much kids transmit this virus.

But let me show you one more thing, and this is -- many countries around the world have opened their schools safely, but I want to show you what happened in Israel, okay?

So, Jim, to your point, if you have significant community spread or you've reopen too early, there on May 17th, they opened schools and their numbers overall are a lot lower than ours but you could see what happened. So kids I think are a smaller driver of spread. But if they are spreading in a much larger microcosm of virus in a community, it can have a huge impact, as we saw in Israel. So that's what we have to avoid.

CAMEROTA: That is a really important graph that you just showed us and I hope that elected officials as well as school administrators are look at that one. Sanjay, thank you very much. Kaitlan, thank you very much for all the reporting.

So, Texas is leading the nation in new cases in just the past 24 hours. It's also hitting a record for coronavirus deaths. Governor Abbott there has done an about-face on an important position. So what is the new plan for Texas now? Austin's mayor is going to join us next.




GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): People are panicking thinking I'm about to shut down Texas again. The answer is no. That is not the goal. What I want to do is make sure that everyone begins to wear a mask so that we will be able COVID-19 under control so that we will not have to shut Texas back down.


CAMEROTA: Texas Governor Greg Abbott said no to a statewide shutdown, though the state saw its deadliest day of the pandemic yesterday. Texas led the nation yesterday with nearly 15,000 cases in just one day.

Some hard hit counties forced to prepare for the worst by bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up.

Joining us now is the mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler. Mayor Adler, thank you very much for being.

Before we get to what Governor Abbott is going to be doing, just tell us and give us a status report of Austin, what is happening there this morning?

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-AUSTIN, TX): Well, in Austin we're on the edge. We were able successfully about three weeks ago having finally been given the ability by the governor to have mandated masking, community that widely adopted it. And in the last six days we've been seeing our trajectory, which was just screaming, begin to flatten out.

If there is a lesson to be learned in Austin right now, it's the power of having a community that actually does mask. It's just unbelievable to me that cities like Atlanta and Mayor Bottoms are having to fight this battle.

CAMEROTA: Governor Abbott seems to have been all over the map in terms of masks and, pardon the pun, he's done an about-face now. So, at first, he wasn't mandating it, he wasn't going to impose any penalties, he wasn't going to enforce it, he was fighting those things and then just this week he has come around to feeling that they must be mandated.

Do you think that that has caused confusion in Texas?

ADLER: Well, I tell you, masking has been an incredibly confused topic. And it's part of one of the challenges that we had. The messaging coming out of Washington and out of -- from the governor very early in the process was that it wasn't important, wasn't necessary. Then our governor started endorsing masking but he wouldn't make it mandatory.


That sends a confused message. If it's just recommended but not mandatory, is it really important? And I wish we had finally gotten to the place that we are now with mandatory masking three, four, five, six weeks earlier.

The people in this country are getting confused messaging and it's not right because every city, including Austin, demonstrate the importance of wearing masks.

CAMEROTA: Do you ever let yourself imagine what Texas would look like today had masks been mandated earlier?

ADLER: I think about it all of the time. All of the restrictions on the economy are so hard. I have people that are hurting because of the virus and I have people that hurting because of the economic impact. If we could -- the lesson to be learned when we did the stay-at-home and emerged from it back in April was that there probably was a way, if you look at other countries and other cities, there probably was a way for us to keep the virus low.

But what that would have meant was we didn't open the economy so early, we made sure we hit gates first. We had contact tracing and testing fully in place, that when we opened the economy and into the phases we delayed after each phase so that we could learn before we went to the next one and to see if we should go to the next one.

And, finally, we have to recognize that when we reopen the economy, it's not going to look like it used to look like we opened the economy. Businesses are going to have to be creative and adaptive and innovative. And we're all going to have to be wearing masks as we participate in this -- in whatever goes forward.

CAMEROTA: And why do you think Governor Abbott didn't follow that path? ADLER: The best as I could tell, it turned into a partisan issue and with the messaging coming out of Washington when the president, when he announced the recommendation for masking made a point of saying it was only a recommendation, people didn't have to do it, and, by the way, he wasn't going to do it. I think that set the tone real early. I think it became a partisan issue and, again, political instead of just following the science and the data.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about schools in Austin. As I understand it, schools are set to open August 18th. That's around the corner, obviously. And you've decided to delay in-person learning for three weeks and then you will reassess. Why not just call it now? Why not just say, given the numbers in Texas, you're not going to have in- person learning this semester, kids are not going to be back in the classroom until at least Thanksgiving? That's what some college campuses have decided to do. I mean, why not give parents some peace of mind or at least resolution on how to plan their lives?

ADLER: Well, I think we have to get to that place of certainty when we announced that we were going to delay reopening schools until after Labor Day. We also told everybody that the default assumption for everyone should be that there won't be on-site education in the fall.

There are still some conversations at some of the local school districts who want to have students that are most at risk, so we have to work our way through those issues. But I think that it's pretty clear that you can't have schools just open in a community when the virus load is as high as it is right now in Austin.

At the time we did that, it was also unclear whether we have the ability and the power to do it as a local community because our state agency was taking the other position. After we issued that order, the state agency now has confirmed that we do have that measure of control.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, we really appreciate your time. We know how busy you are. Thanks for giving us a status report this morning.

ADLER: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Well we'd like to take a moment now to remember some of the 138,000 Americans who have died from coronavirus.

Mychaela and Byron Francis were sister and brother. They died 11 days apart in Lauderhill, Florida. They were both in their early 20s, both had underlying conditions. Their mother, Monete, says, planning two funerals has, as you could imagine, been very difficult.

39-year-old Renada Maguire was a mother of six from Saint Augustine, Florida. She died on July 4th. Her best friend said she lived for her kids that range in age from 6 to 19. According to a GoFundMe page setup for the family, two of Maguire's children have disabilities and will need special care. And Desi-rae McIntosh of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida was just 26 years old. Her father, Thomas, said she had asthma and diabetes. He calls her the sweetest, most honest, caring and loving person you could ever want to meet. And he says it is hard to believe that he'll never hug her again.

Just a handful of the victims of all of this. We'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: Developing this hour, Russia not surprisingly denying intelligence from the U.S., U.K. and Canada that Russian hacker attempted to steal coronavirus vaccine research.

Joining me now is Richard Clarke. He's a former National Security Council Counterterrorism Adviser. He's now the Chairman of the Middle East Institute. Good to have you on as always. A few people know all of this better than you.

Let me ask what you see in this hack, as described by U.S. and other intelligence services. Bbecause one of the groups involved, a group of Russian hackers known as Cozy Bear, one of the groups involved in the hacking of the 2016 presidential election. What is Russia trying to accomplish here and how concerning is it?

RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, Russia and China are both hacking into or attempting to hack into every company in the world that's trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Neither Russia nor China want to be waiting around in line for an American vaccine if we develop it first. And if we do develop it first, it's likely that most Americans will get that vaccine before people in Russia or China. So they want to steal that information so they can develop their own.


The most valuable piece of information in the world right now is how to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.